This week parents at our school were trying to figure out how to buy copy paper and pencils so that we could keep our librarian and music teacher, at least part time. Crazy conversations like this are taking place in schools all over the state at the same time Governor Corbett is arguing that he increased funding to public education. And it’s not even April Fools Day for two more weeks.
On the other hand, Tim Eller, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said that the real problem is schools have to spend less: “This isn’t that more money’s needed … It’s that school districts and educational entities need to realize and recognize that we’re in an economy that has not improved yet, and they need to take the necessary actions to spend within their means.” (Post-Gazette, 3-12-12) So the state says it is giving schools more money, but those schools need to spend less – which means cutting teachers and educational programs.
Maybe this is just March madness. But let’s remind Governor Corbett that our schools need both pencils and librarians. School districts are already cutting into the bone, as the numbers below demonstrate.
In the fall, as students were headed back to school with the state’s new $1 BILLION cuts in effect, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials conducted a survey of the impact of those cuts. Of the state’s 500 school districts, 59% responded, giving a very good picture of how public education has already been dramatically affected:
- 70% of school districts increased class sizes above what they were last school year.
- 58% delayed purchases of technology, such as computers.
- 55% indicated they reduced or eliminated student field trips.
- 44% reduced course offerings, such as foreign languages, arts, music, physical education and even some core subjects, such as math, English, sciences and social studies.
- 35% reduced or eliminated tutoring.
- 33% reduced or eliminated extracurricular activities, including sports programs.
- 20% eliminated their summer school programs, in which students can make up the necessary credits to allow them to graduate on time.
- 4 school districts eliminated full-day kindergarten, and 9 reduced their full-day kindergarten programs.
- 14,159 positions were cut or left vacant